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Kvadrat Debuts Raf Simons Collaboration

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A taste of Kvadrat/Raf Simons, which arrives at retail in April. (Photos from left: Anne Collier, Kvadrat)

It’s easy to forget, now that he has ascended to the creative helm of Dior, that Raf Simons began his career as a promising young furniture designer. He returns to his roots with a new range of textiles, cushions, and throws created in collaboration with Kvadrat. Simons looked to his beloved mid-century masters, including Jean Royère, Pierre Jeanneret, Finn Juhl, and Hans Wegner, for textured elements, including a woven mohair reminiscent of sheepskin, speckled boucles, and a fur-like textile. Others reimagine the work of the late Swedish textile designer Fanny Aronsen.

And while Simons used many of the textiles in his fall/winter 2014 menswear collection, for which he teamed with artist Sterling Ruby, the Kvadrat collection was conceived with interiors in mind. “We are making fabrics that are like a blank canvas for designers,” said Simons in a statement issued today. “They are waiting for input from the furniture designers—we don’t control the design they will use the textiles for, so we try to leave it very open; these fabrics should be multifunctional.”

Clear Favorite: Boskke’s Self-Watering Planter

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boskke cubeNeither snow nor freezing rain nor the Super Bowl can keep thousands of retailers from NY NOW, the twice-yearly trade show that fills the Javits Center with giftables and homegoods galore. Enlisted to prowl the aisles of the “Accent on Design” section as a judge for the show’s “Bloggers’ Choice Awards,” we emerged with a clear favorite: the Boskke Cube, a new self-watering planter offered by Brooklyn-based neo-utility.

Designer Patrick Morris deconstructed the traditional plant pot and added an ingenious irrigation system to create this transparent planter, which acts as a reservoir for a month’s supply of water. “The clear plastic body reveals the water, soil, and roots of the plant, allowing you to witness firsthand the mechanics of plant growth,” says Morris of the Cube, which comes in assorted sizes. “And great for all those travelers…you only need to water it once a month.”

Scrabble Typography Returns for a Second Round

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Andrew Capener‘s fontastic version of Scrabble is back! The California designer set out to reinvent the beloved board game in a way that would excite people about typography. His concept was to replace the familiar bleached-wood, monofont letter tiles with rich walnut versions in a variety of typefaces. An additional design tweak: all of the game components would be magnetized, an innovation that anyone who has lost that lone “Z” or “K” can appreciate. A licensee of Hasbro is back on board with a second (limited) edition, which includes new fonts and Bauhaus-inspired game components.

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Dwell Delves into Retail with Online Store

eames notebookFrom print to web to…retail. That’s the path taken by Dwell Media, which has parlayed its modern design expertise into e-commerce. The recently launched Dwell Store is stocked with products from the likes of Kartell, Flos, the Bouroullec Brothers, and Grain Design. The site will also showcase designs developed exclusively for Dwell. “Our audience constantly asks us, ‘Where can I buy that?’” says Dwell president Michela O’Connor Abrams. “I am so pleased to now say ‘at dwell.com!’” Start the new year off with a few Delfonics wooden pens from Japan ($10 each) and an Eames notebook (pictured, $20).

Paddle8 Launches Sister Site for ‘Extraordinary Experiences’

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Still got it. A private, curator-led tour of the Clyfford Still Museum in Denver is among the experiences now up for grabs on Gavel&Grand.

Did Santa (or UPS) fail to deliver for you this year? Still in search of a worthy cause for an under-the-wire 2013 charitable donation? Head straight to Gavel&Grand. The recently launched site expands Paddle8‘s online platform, rounding up philanthropic auctions that are studded with extraordinary experiences. Hurry to get your bids in for the Aspen Art Museum’s Freestyle auction, which runs through tomorrow evening on the site. The big-ticket items include a stay at a private chalet and a membership at The Caribou Club, but we’re coveting the Inez and Vinoodh commissioned portrait, private tour of the breathtaking Clyfford Still Museum, and a San Francisco art junket that promises an intimate look at Ai Weiwei‘s forthcoming Alcatraz Island installation.

LUSH Teams with Vivienne Westwood for Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap

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knot wrap vivBefore you run to the store for another roll of glitter-flecked snowflake paper, check out the sustainable solution cooked up by LUSH. The Canadian handmade cosmetics juggernaut teamed with fashion designer Vivienne Westwood to create the Knot-Wrap, a square of organic cotton that can be re-used as a scarf or drawstring bag after the presents are long gone. Profits from the knot-wraps, available online and LUSH stores while quantities last, go toward Westwood’s Climate Revolution initiative.

Poulin + Morris Creates Identity for NPR Retail Store

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NPR moved into a new Washington, DC HQ earlier this year, and as if the dulcet tones of Robert Siegel and Audie Cornish weren’t enough to woo visitors into the 440,000-square-foot complex—LEED Gold, bien sûr—there’s a two-story digital mosaic and now a place to purchase assorted NPR merch (do they have the heavily discounted Carl Kasell pillow? Wait, wait, don’t tell me). Part retail store, part event space and tour group corral, NPR Commons makes it debut with a visual identity by Poulin + Morris. The New York-based firm anchored the branding program in the iconic NPR logo and brought in dynamic patterns and colors that nod to radio frequencies. And of course, every shopping bag, gift box, label, hangtag, and sign is made of recycled materials.

Season’s Greetings: Cards That Give Back

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Americans spend around $2 billion on Christmas holiday cards each year. Wouldn’t it be great if that amount could also go to help organizations ranging from animal shelters and art museums to international relief organizations and environmental groups? That’s where Cards That Give comes in. The site provides links to–and information about–more than 200 nonprofits that sell holiday cards to help fund their charitable work. Notes Houston-based founder Anne Furse, “If it were easy for individuals and businesses to buy their greeting cards from non-profit organizations, card sales could generate millions of dollars for worthy causes.”

Saks Fifth Avenue Decks the Halls with 3D-Printed Snowflakes by Marian Bantjes

printing snowflakesOh, the weather outside is frightful, but Saks Fifth Avenue’s latest holiday (and possibly last) collaboration with Marian Bantjes is so delightful. This year Makerbot and Mastercard join the mix, offering shoppers at Saks’ New York City flagship the chance to take home a 3D-printed snowflake.

Illustrated by Bantjes and printed on a MakerBot Replicator 2 (pictured), the snowflakes are a gift with purchase for those who spend $150 on their Mastercard through December 24. Stop by to watch the Replicator work its magic Wednesday through Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on weekends from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Can’t make it to New York this holiday season? Bantjes’s work is just as entrancing in 2D. Pick up a copy of her stunning new monograph Pretty Pictures (Metropolis Books) and then buy five more as stocking stuffers.

Quote of Note | Will Cotton

cotton laduree“Macarons are the quintessential confectionery delight. In the macaron, the color, texture, and flavor become so much more than the sum of their parts. And since the flavors aren’t dictated by the cookies’ form, each one becomes a vessel of endless possibility for the most fantastic flavor imaginable.”

-Will Cotton, discussing his collaboration with Ladurée. The artist’s macaron flavor (think ginger-infused whipped cream) and box debuts this week in Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach.

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